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‘Zoey 101’ Star Matthew Underwood Quit Acting After Sexual Assault

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2023 - Arrivals
Matthew Underwood. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Zoey 101 alum Matthew Underwood shared his sexual assault story in the wake of Investigation Discovery’s four-part docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.

“When I was 19, I was sexually harassed and then assaulted by my agent at the time, who had spent a decent amount of time building trust with me as a friend and mentor,” Underwood wrote in a statement shared via Instagram on Friday, March 29. His former agent remained unnamed in the statement.

“My trust was betrayed and my self image was crushed,” Underwood continued. “I reported him to the agency and he has since been fired — although he is still active in the industry. This experience provoked my move away from LA and ended my pursuit of acting.”

Underwood also alleged that he’d been “molested by my best friends’ stepfather” at age 12 and further explained that he chose to speak up about his history of assault and harassment after receiving intense public criticism, saying “many people have been blowing up [his] email” and calling him a “pedophile defender” for remaining silent after the release of Quiet on Set.

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV aired on March 17 and 18 and examined the toxic work environment for child actors at Nickelodeon. The documentary features allegations of abuse against Dan Schneider, who created popular Nickelodeon shows like Zoey 101, Drake & Josh, iCarly, Victorious and Sam & Cat.

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“I imagine many of my friends in the business are being equally harassed if they aren’t joining the chorus,” Underwood continued. “So I’m sharing this with hope that some of you can recognize that just because a person doesn’t shout from the rooftops that pedophiles are bad or that people can suck — that does not mean they don’t have their own reasons for staying silent, good reasons, personal reasons.” (Underwood starred as Logan Reese for four seasons of Zoey 101 between 2005 and 2008. He reprised the role for the revival film, Zoey 102, in 2023.)

While actors, writers and crew members who worked on set with Schneider share similar stories of workplace harassment, Underwood said he “never had a bad experience working on set of a Nickelodeon show” and “never had a bad experience with Dan.”

“​​I have nothing to add to the conversation that anyone would care to hear,” Underwood said. “I like to believe people have the capacity to be better humans and Dan appears to recognize that he had been an asshole in his past. I like to believe he is fully capable of being a creator and coworker everyone can enjoy working with.”

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Matthew Underwood. Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic via Getty

After Underwood felt his words were being taken out of context as a defense of Schneider, he redirected fans to a lengthy response he shared via Reddit. “I believe people are putting words in my mouth and making assumptions about my intentions with that part of my statement,” he wrote, in part. “I know whatever I say will find a way to be twisted by someone, but my attention was unfortunately brought to this thread and I feel it’s necessary to try and clarify.”

He continued: “I feel I might be able to sum up my intentions in that section with an example; I truly wish that even the men who violated me WANTED to be better humans, and if they truly did want that and they made an effort to try to be a better human, I want to live in a world that could positively reinforce that change by offering them opportunities to be that better human being. In that kind of world, hopefully many more people could find fulfillment in being better humans and we might have less perpetuated s–ty behavior. Obviously I wouldn’t want them around children, but no matter what pain is brought upon me, I will always want the world to be a better place and want humans to have a chance to better themselves.”

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While Underwood did not have any difficulties with Schneider, other Zoey 101 alumni have described a different experience with the showrunner. Alexa Nikolas, who starred as Nicole Bristow for two seasons of the series, has previously spoken out about Nickelodeon’s “unsafe” working conditions for child actors. In particular, she has referred to Schneider as the “creator of childhood trauma,” and accused the network of facilitating child abuse. (Schneider parted ways with Nickelodeon in 2018.)

​​“My own personal experience at Nickelodeon … I did not feel protected at Nickelodeon as a child personally,” Nikolas wrote via Instagram in August 2022. “And so, I’m demanding that Nickelodeon starts protecting children and not predators.”

Nikolas was among many former Nickelodeon stars to be interviewed for Quiet On Set, along with All That cast members Giovonnie Samuels, Kyle Sullivan and Bryan Hearne, as well as Drake & Josh alum Drake Bell.

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